I was offered this book via the NetGalley book review site recently and snatched it up immediately. I go in greatly for almost any book on the history of the UK and its associated members. While i have been learning more about the Jacobean period in England, Rebellion provides a clear, detailed and in-depth recounting of all that happened from the accession of James I through the restoration of Charles II and a bit beyond.
Whenever I mention to friends that I am reading about UK history, they tend to question my choices. “Why are you so interested in that period, rather than US History?” Well, in fact, I am also enamored of US History — and all history — but I especially consider the history of Britain the history of the US, as well. Everything that happened in England prior to 1776 had a direct and important impact on everything that came later in the US. I think to ignore that fact would be quite silly. The US didn’t emerge, fully-formed, out of the ether in 1776. It was the long process of many years of British settling and control.
Ackroyd is an excellent write and throughout all his history books takes us deep inside the history so that we can feel, for a time, that we have inhabited these countries, towns and streets. He talks of the grand actions of kings, queens and other nobles, but also gives us a feeling of what it was like the the common man during tumultuous times.
I am always amazed at the the blundering that often occurs throughout political history. The English Civil War, as portrayed by Ackroyd, seems like unwilling, unprepared people carried along by the actions of the day until war as the only answer left to them.
If you want to gain deeper understanding of this period of UK history — and a deeper understanding of history in general — I can highly recommend Rebellion. It can get bogged down in minutiae at times, but those times are few and easily pushed through. Most of the book is excellent, well written, informative and even, dare I say out, exciting to read. It is my believe that history is only boring when people don’t understand it and Ackroyd seems to reach first for understanding which makes the entire period come alive.
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